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Alberta committed to reviewing treatment of trans youth, Smith says in exclusive interview

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Premier Danielle Smith is committing to a review into the treatment of trans youth in Alberta.

In an exclusive interview with CTV News Edmonton on Monday, the premier said a study out of the United Kingdom, the Cass Review, echoes some of her concerns in regards to a lack of scientific rigor when it comes to puberty blockers.

Smith's policies will ban puberty blockers and hormone therapy under the age of 16 and restrict any gender reassignment surgery under the age of 18.

"I don't think you should be doing medical experiments with children when it involves their fertility," Smith said.

"The caution in this case makes far more sense than rushing because the consequences are so serious."

Dr. Hilary Cass also suggests caution in her 388-page report where she makes 32 recommendations calling for more research, assessments, national oversight and planning.

She does not recommend a ban of puberty blockers or hormone therapy under 16 years old. Instead, Dr. Cass writes, "There should be a clear clinical rationale for providing hormones at this stage rather than waiting until an individual reaches 18."

Smith said the Alberta government needs to do its own review.

'Flawed and biased'

Dr. Kris Wells, MacEwan Universities' Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth, said the U.K. report is "flawed and biased" and called on Premier Smith to rescind her proposed policies.

"Absolutely we would welcome more funding for research but it needs to be at arm's length and independent from government," Wells told CTV News Edmonton.

"It needs to be by people who have the expertise, who have the training and the knowledge, and it needs to include trans people."

When asked why she introduced these policies, and whether potential far-right support played a role, Smith said "parents have been asking for it."

"This is not about right wing versus left wing, it's about right and wrong," the premier added.

"We know exactly why the premier has introduced these policy proposals," Dr. Wells said. "Because she's trying to appease a far-right base that she believes is in her best interests with an upcoming leadership review in the province of Alberta."

Dr. Wells also questions why the premier is following medical advice from overseas when many Canadian health organizations, including the Alberta Medical Association and the Canadian Paediatric Society, have spoken out against her policies.

"The premier is just trying to find evidence to fit her ideology instead of listening to all the Canadian medical associations," he said.

More details around the policies including possible consequences for doctors and teachers who fail to follow the rules are coming this fall, Smith said.  

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